Default slide background options are limited to solid or gradient fills, and yes, you can even apply a picture as a slide background.
However, picture backgrounds do pose some issues, especially since a busy picture may hamper the visibility of other slide objects such as text or charts. Fortunately, PowerPoint provides options to reduce the intensity of a picture background so that any foreground elements such as text can stand apart.
Look at the slide on the top within Figure 1, below, and then compare it with the slide at the bottom within the same figure. The visibility of the text fails often within the top slide. The bottom slide has none of the inherent weaknesses, and in fact works with text of almost all neutral colors!
Figure 1: Choose your background pictures wisely
We have already covered how to insert a picture as background fill and apply the basic formatting within our Picture Fills for Slide Backgrounds in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows tutorial. In this tutorial, we'll explore Artistic Effects for picture background fills, and how they can improve the visibility of other slide objects.
Follow these steps to learn how you can apply Artistic Effects to pictures used as slide background fill in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows:
- Apply a picture as background fill, or open any of your existing presentations with picture used as background fill. Then summon the Format Background Task Pane, as shown in Figure 2. Within the Format Background Task Pane, select the Effects tab (highlighted in red within Figure 2).
Figure 2: Format Background Task Pane
- This brings up the Artistic Effects option within the Effects tab, as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: Artistic Effects option within the Format Background Task Pane
- Within the Format Background Task Pane click the Artistic Effects button (highlighted in red within Figure 3). This brings up the Artistic Effects drop-down gallery with preview thumbnails of different artistic effects, as shown in Figure 4. Click on any preview thumbnail to apply a particular effect to the picture background.
Figure 4: Artistic Effects drop-down gallery
- Once you apply an effect to the picture background fill, you can fine-tune the effect to control the resultant effect. Note that the fine tune options will differ, depending upon the Artistic Effect applied to your picture background fill. For this tutorial we applied the Photocopy artistic effect. This effect brings forth the Transparency (highlighted in blue within Figure 5) and Detail (highlighted in red within Figure 5) options. Drag these sliders to end up with an effect that is muted enough to work as a slide background.
Figure 5: Artistic Effects fine tune options
- To get back the original picture, click the Reset button (highlighted in green within Figure 5, above).
- Choose any of the options explained in the preceding steps. Thereafter, you can proceed choosing any of the following options:
- Click the Apply to All button to fill all slides in the presentation with the selected picture.
- Click the Reset Background button to abandon all changes you made to the slide background.
- More details about the Apply to All and Reset Background buttons can be found in our Format Slide Background in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows tutorial.
- Remember to save your presentation often.